Just as I am not built for air travel, I am not built for amusement parks. With yuenchi, the Japanese variety, my height becomes an even bigger issue. I know it’s old hat, possibly even racist, but most things in Japan really are a bit smaller. I bang my head ALL THE TIME in this apartment, on trains, at the office, et cetera. So, it was with some trepidation that I ventured forth with my fellow trainees to the Tokyo Dome City Attractions last Wednesday. Rainbow’s End couldn’t prepare me for this shit.

It’s home to the Thunder Dolphin, a one-and-a-half kilometre collection of Thrills and Spills including an 80-degree drop and a top speed of 130km/h. You know how most rollercoasters have those big securing pads that come down over your shoulders? Not this one – just a seatbelt and a bar across your torso. I wasn’t really that nervous, because I didn’t know what to expect, but as we went up the first incline and looked out over the city whilst screaming ‘Holy shit!’, the visions of all the safety precautions failing and me falling hundreds of metres began to swirl.

It was fine, of course. I would make fun of one of our number for closing her eyes throughout, but she (and all the others) actually went back twice while I wandered around on the ground like a dog waiting for its master to come home. What? I had a headache! Largely because of another rollercoaster we subsequently went on, Geo-Panic (indoors, dark, very very cramped), but a headache nonetheless. I’d go in Thunder Dolphin again, but not twice in the same day. Even if it does have a ridiculous name.

Speaking of faithful dogs, I met Eiko-san by the statue of Hachiko on Thursday. She took me to an izakaya for dinner, where we had some good stuff (I forgot to take photos this time, sorry), then to an English pub. She kept feeding me Long Island Iced Teas until we had to leave to catch the last train, so of course I felt like death for the last day of kids training. Worth it though, totally. I’m very lucky that I know people who are already here – I think it’s a bit difficult for some of the other trainees who really are starting a whole new life in Japan.

Last night I went clubbing by accident. I was supposed to just have a couple of drinks then come home on the last train so I would have some energy for study today, but of course I was dazzled by my new colleagues’ conversation, so I missed that train and had to stay out all night. Jimmy paired up with a girl at the first bar so we left him behind and went out to Chiba-ken to a club called Studio Coast. Almost as impressive as the cavernous interior and the pumping beats was the 3500 yen cover charge (about $40 back in NZ).

It was fun and all, but I hit the wall pretty early and it took two hours to get home. I wondered how one-night stands work at a place like that. You meet someone, you decide to leave together, and then… you spend hours in buses and trains just getting back to the flat. Maybe I’ll find out soon LOL!!!!1! The other thing I’m struggling to adjust to is people smoking inside – it’s illegal in workplaces and public establishments back in NZ, but not here. People always go on about how bad passive smoking is, and yeah that sucks, but the worst is how all your clothes smell like they’ve been washed with tobacco. You think you’re getting away from the smoke when you leave, only to find you can’t escape until your shirt and pants are in the washing machine.

Couple of other things: check it out Johnny’s weblog, he can tell you about host bars and how he should try to get work in one. Finally, the other day I finally saw something I’d been looking for ever since coming to Japan: ganguro fashion. It’s basically fake tan, peroxide blonde hair and white around the eyes and mouth. Perilously close to blackface, and horribly unattractive if you ask me. Supposedly, it’s a way for unpretty girls to mask their looks, but like… I struggle to believe that most ganguro girls wouldn’t look better without it. If I were making a ‘Bizarre Japan’ list, it would currently rest at #1.

This is why I should make regular posting days: so my entries aren’t so all over the place, or so long. I’ll probably make it Fridays and Sundays from now on, seeing as those are my days off. Work proper starts tomorrow by the way. Not worried about it.

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